40 Years Anniversary of the Camp David Accords

When Menachem Begin became Prime Minister he made it clear he was willing to negotiate with Egypt. In August 1977, he visited Romania and asked President Nicolae Ceausescu for his help, given Ceausescu close relationship with Sadat. Begin also sent Moshe Dayan, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Morocco to secretly convene with King Hassan and express Israel’s desire for peace talks with Egypt.

Sadat made a parliamentary address saying he was willing to go to the Knesset. Begin invited him to Jerusalem. They both spoke about Peace.

Begin was very careful and an honorable man. Sadat was told that Begin would negotiate tough, but trustworthy, when a deal was reached. Carter pushed Begin to accede to Sadat’s demands. But Begin was moving meticulously. He had his principles he would not abandon. At a joint summit in Ismailia they were deadlocked. President Carter decided to hold a summit at Camp David. After 12 days of tough negotiations a Peace Treaty was reached.

Sadat, Carter and Begin at Camp David, Moshe Milner, Courtesy of GPO, 1978-09-06, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Two of the three key players in the Camp David Accords began their terms in office as President or Prime Minister in 1977. Menachem Begin of Israel in June 1977 and Jimmy Carter of the USA in January 1977. Anwar Sadat of Egypt had been in office from October 1970. Together, these three men would be responsible for signing one of the most important peace treaties in Middle East history at Camp David in 1978.

Menachem Begin, Alon Reininger – Contact Press Images, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Menachem Begin

Prime Minister of Israel from June 1977 - September 1983


Goals for Camp David: Make a peace agreement with Egypt while keeping the territories of Judea and Samaria under Israeli control.

"He believed in Eretz Israel, he really believed in it."
William Quandt - staff member on the National Security Council

"He made the tough decisions, took responsibility for the political settlement. He made decisions which nobody who knew Begin earlier would have thought he could have been brought to make."
Sam Lewis - US Ambassador to Israel

Anwar Sadat, Ya'akov Sa'ar, Courtesy of GPO, Israel, 1977-11-20, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Anwar Sadat

President of Egypt 1970-1981

Goals for Camp David: Represent the Arab nations and gain back control of the Sinai Territory that was under Israeli jurisdiction since the Six-Day War in 1967.

"He wanted to get his territory back, but wanted also to be seen as upholding a certain set of principles on behalf of the other Arabs."
William Quandt - staff member on the National Security Council

Jimmy Carter, United States Library of Congress's, 1977-01-31, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Jimmy Carter

President of the United States of America 1977 - 1981

He previously was the 76th Governor of Georgia.

Goals for Camp David: Carter wanted to earn a legacy as the President who made peace in the Middle East a reality.

"Carter wanted an agreement badly and had committed all the prestige of the presidency to it."
Sam Lewis

Moshe Dayan and Dr. HassanTuhami at Camp David, Moshe Milner, Courtesy of GPO, 1978-09-03, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

In August 1977 Prime Minister Menachem Begin met Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and asked him to persuade Sadat to visit Israel.
Following secret meetings between Moshe Dayan, Israel's Foreign Minister, and Egypt's Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Tuhami in September 1977 in Morocco, Sadat met the Romanian president in Bucharest in October. The stage was set.
On November 9, 1977, Sadat announced he was “ready to go to the Israeli Parliament itself” to resolve the conflict in the Middle East. Israel formally extended an invitation Through the United States to Sadat to visit.

President Anwar Sadat, Moshe Milner, courtesy of GPO, 1977-11-19, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

On November 19, Sadat visited Israel as part of an historic first visit by an Arab leader.

He met with Begin, addressed the Knesset and laid a wreath at a monument to Israeli war dead.

On December 25, Sadat then hosted Begin in Ismailia, Egypt.

The summit did not solve the problems, but both Begin and Sadat agreed to continue negotiations.

Despite meetings throughout 1978, including US involvement, talks reached a crisis point.

Cartoon of Begin and Sadat pulled by extremists, Shmuel Katz, Al Hamishmar, 1978-11-17, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

After a series of crises in the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, decided to invite both countries leaders to the President's country retreat, Camp David, with the goal of reaching an agreement. After thirteen days of intense negotiations, September 5-17, 1977,they agreed on a foundation for peace.

President Sadat, President Carter and PM Begin, Moshe Milner, Courtesy of GPO, 1978-09, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

On August 3, President Jimmy Carter invited both Begin and Sadat to Camp David to work out a Peace Plan. From September 5-18 a Peace summit was held. Carter preferred the three men work together in private sessions. He also insisted no direct press coverage of the meetings, fearing it would have a negative effect on negotiations.
At one point, an agreement appeared so bleak that Sadat threatened to leave. Carter forced him to stay to work it out. On the last day, an agreement was reached. Both the Egyptian Cabinet and Israeli Knesset approved the agreement. On March 26, 1979 a ceremony was held in Washington, D.C. where Egypt and Israel formally signed a peace treaty on the White House Lawn ending the state of war that existed between the two countries.

Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the Camp David Middle East Peace Conference

U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Staff member on the National Security Council. He was actively involved in the negotiations that led to the Camp David Accords and the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty.

PM Begin and Security Advisor Brzezinski, Moshe Milner, courtesy of GPO, 1978-09-09, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center
Minister Dayan conversing with Pres. Sadat, Moshe Milner, Courtesy of GPO, 1978-09-01, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center
PM Begin in golf cart at Camp David, Moshe Milner, 1978-09-01, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center
President Anwar Sadat and Defense Minister Weizman, Moshe Milner, Courtesy of GPO, 1978-09-10, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center
President Carter applauding PM Begin and President Sadat, Moshe Milner, courtesy of GPO, 1978-09-17, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center
PM Begin shakes hands with Egyptian President Sadat at the peace agreement signing at the White House in Washington, DC, Sa'ar Ya'acov, Courtesy of GPO, Israel, 1979-03-26, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

At the end of the Camp David accords negotiations, two agreements were signed. The first created a framework for a future autonomy regime in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, while the second focused on peace between Israel and Egypt.

The inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would see the Israeli military government and its civilian administration withdrawn and a self-governing authority would be elected. Jordan would be invited to join the negotiations and a five-year transitional period would begin. Although negotiations took place, they broke off after the PLO was uncooperative and later, Egypt suspended the talks.

The Second Agreement led to a full Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, the right of free passage by ships of Israel through the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal, a fixing of demilitarized zones in Sinai and their supervision and the establishment of normal relations between Egypt and Israel, including full recognition, including diplomatic, economic and cultural relations and the termination of economic boycotts.

The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, 1979-03-26, From the collection of: Menachem Begin Heritage Center

"I bring to the Knesset, and through it to the nation, the message of the establishment of peace with the strongest and largest of the Arab states; and, in the course of time, inevitably, with all our neighbors."

This is how Menachem Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel, opened the historic debate in Israel's Knesset.
At the end of the debate, the Camp David Accords were approved by a vast majority.
The Camp David Accords that were signed on September 17,1978, in the White House represented a turning point in the history of the Middle East.

Credits: Story

Curator — Ori Hirschmann Rub
Assitants Curator — Yisrael Medad; Karen Nemetski; Rami Shtivi; Yossi Swed
Text Editor — Ilana Brown
Cartoon — Shmuel Katz
Photograph — Alon Reininger Contact Press Images NY
United States Library of Congress's
GPO Photographs — Moshe Milner, Ya'akov Sa'ar,
Video Footage — Menachem Begin Heritage Center Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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